Ever since the wireless revolution began I have had a personal discomfort with being locked into a long-term contract (most typically two years) with the large telecommunications companies. It seemed to be a way to trap a consumer into a service that might be as lousy as it is good.
To me, long-term contracts are the complete antithesis of our “so-called” free market capitalism. Deep down we all know it’s not really that “free,” but enough people have been conned to not bother going there in this post. If you are not happy with your service, you should be free to switch carriers at any time without penalties or fees. This would reward good service while penalizing bad. I also did not like the fact that if you wanted to upgrade your phone (or service) your long-term contract was summarily recalculated and extended from the date of that change – a covert form of perpetual indentured servitude to multi-national corporations
Yes, there are options out there where you can be reimbursed for the cost of switching, but that can take time. Meanwhile, you are forking over a bunch of cash up front to make the switch. In December, my two-year contract with AT&T ended (finally). While I did not terminate my service instantly (really liked my Blackberry Curve), I did a lot of research and inquired about the various options on the market.
To me, unless you are seriously geeked about owning the latest cutting-edge technology the moment it comes to the market, the best options today are being provided by the prepaid (non-contract) wireless cell phone services. These include Boost (part of Sprint), Go Mobile (part of AT&T), Cricket, Virgin Mobile, Metro PCS, Consumer Cellular, Jitterbug, Net 10, and many others. When Walmart gets in the game (Family Mobile), you know there is money to be made.
No, I would not put all of these services in the same league as one another. There are clear differences between them. Many operate on Sprint’s nationwide network, which gets much better reception where I live than AT&T ever did. Others use T-Mobile, Verizon, or AT&T. Because of the definite differences between the providers, you should search for the one that best fits your personal needs. Here’s a link to one website that compares that compares the prepaid programs.
For me, Virgin Mobile best fit my needs. I only pay $35 a month for unlimited text, e-mail, and data and get 300 anytime minutes a month. I have a great 3G Android phone made by LG tat only cost $80, and am happy as a lark. I don’t need 4G or the expense of an iPhone and this comes from an Apple MacBook Pro and IPod Nano owner/lover. Other more extensive (and expensive) plans are also available through Virgin Mobile and the other services. I just top off my account monthly on the net or through thousands of retailers and I am good to go. I can upgrade at anytime too.
I personally believe prepaid portion of the cell phone/wireless market is going to continue growing faster than the traditional long-term contract market. Others must feel this way too considered the plethora of recent articles on the topic. I also have to admit the Android is the first technology I have seen that will give the iPhone a run for its money – this is coming from the father of three iPhone owning sons.
The choice is yours, freedom of choice and movement or being locked into a long-term cell phone contract. to me, the decision was an easy one to make – I prefer the freedom offered by the prepaid providers.
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